Welcome, Mitch Shapiro

MuniNetworks.org is happy to welcome a new contributor to the site, Mitch Shapiro.  Mitch will author pieces from time to time, the start of our efforts to broaden the contributions to and reach of MuniNetworks.org.  If you are interested in contributing on a one-time or semi-regular basis, please let us know at broadband@muninetworks.org.

Mitch Shapiro has been an analyst, author and consultant in the telecom, media and broadband industries for more than 25 years. His interest in community-controlled networks dates back to his graduate school days at Michigan State University, which included two internship in Washington DC, the first helping to draft a manual for local communities wanting to deploy a cable TV cooperative, the second working for Intelsat, a cooperatively organized global satellite network. That interest remains strong today, and is informed by more than two decades of experience analyzing broadband technologies, business models, competitive dynamics and economic impacts.

Mitch currently serves as CEO of Broadband Market Analysis, a research and consulting firm, and Rural Fiber Works, which supports cooperative and municipal utilities in developing strategies for open-access community fiber networks. He is also a consultant with Strategic Networks Group, a leader in helping public and private entities understand and maximize the economic benefits of broadband networks.

Throughout his career, Mitch has been a leader in recognizing and projecting the impacts of key industry developments. In the mid-1980s, as Research Director of the Michigan Citizens Lobby, he managed a statewide study of the impacts of the AT&T divestiture on Michigan’s low-income households. In the late 80s and early 90s, as lead technology analyst for Paul Kagan Associates, he was early to recognize the significance of the cable industry’s migration to the “hybrid fiber coaxial (HFC)” architecture, which enabled it to expand from a TV-only service to today’s “triple-play” of voice, video and Internet. Shortly after passage of the 1996 Telecom Act, Mitch authored a 375-page report published by Probe Research, which projected the financial impacts of the legislation on cable and telephone companies, including the role of then-emerging broadband and “triple-play” services, and the potential role of electric utilities in the changing communication market.

Mitch was also early to recognize the potential for bringing fiber to small towns and rural areas, as reflected in a 2001 column he wrote in Lightwave magazine entitled “Fiber to the Farm,” which examined the improving economics of rural fiber deployments and a pioneering open-access FTTH network in Washington state. 

In 2006, Mitch authored a 105-page report entitled Municipal Broadband: The Economics, Politics and Implications, which was published by Pike & Fischer. Two years later he co-authored the Municipal & Utility Guidebook to Bringing Broadband Fiber Optics to Your Community, published by the Public Technology Institute. Describing it as “the first comprehensive guide written for city, county, and utility officials,” PTI’s Executive Director Alan Shark highlighted the guidebook’s value in an opening preface:

This guidebook helps government leaders build a strong case for investing in an infrastructure that brings fiber-to-the-home services, through thorough analysis, interviews, and painstaking research. It sets forth strategies that, if followed, will help American communities whose broadband needs are not being met by current market dynamics to prosper in the information age.

Mitch holds a B.A. in Economics from the University of Michigan and an M.A. in Telecommunications from Michigan State University. His recent publications are listed here.